Liverpool face Arsenal for the Community Shield on Saturday in a game that may dictate the future of Gini Wijnaldum. Two players could have a huge impact.

What will happen with Wijnaldum? We still don’t have much of a clue. The Dutchman’s contract expires in under 12 months and he may well leave for free at the end of the season.

FC Red Bull Salzburg v FC Liverpool - Friendly Match

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Perhaps Liverpool could sell now, then. They’d guarantee a fee, for one, but it depends whether they get value for money. Goal says Barcelona want Wijnaldum, only that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to pay. They could well wait.

Just about everywhere – including in Germany – says that Liverpool would want to replace Wijnaldum with Thiago. They’ll only sign the player if there’s room, however.

And that will be why they’re not actively looking to sell Wijnaldum. Thiago is a risk as he may not fit in and if he fails, Liverpool will struggle. Wijnaldum, on the other hand, is a known quantity and a very good one. No risk there.

But just how risky Thiago is may depend on Saturday. Liverpool face Arsenal in the Community Shield and we could see two midfielders on show who haven’t been regulars in recent years.

Shaking it up

We named both Naby Keita and Curtis Jones in our predicted lineup for Saturday. Jones is certainly a ‘new’ player for the season as he hadn’t debuted this time last year. He’s a different option but, seemingly, a certain first-team squad player.

 

Keita is different. He’s been around for a while but has lacked consistency. His run towards the end of the season was very promising, however, and he looks ready to play a key part this season.

Jordan Henderson is out of the side and the doubt around Wijnaldum makes us believe Jones and Keita will play either side of Fabinho. And if they do, they have a chance to affect Liverpool’s transfer plans.

Because signing Thiago is far less of a risk if there are two other reliable midfielders at the club. It would mean that his failure wouldn’t actually have too big an effect – both Jones and Keita are viable options.

If they struggle on Saturday, then the opposite happens. Suddenly, Liverpool could really use Wijnaldum’s reliability for the season ahead.

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The most important, then, is Keita. If he can perform in the Community Shield, it suggests he’s finally in a consistent rhythm, carrying on from last season. He would be a real first XI option and the need for Wijnaldum lessons.

Liverpool are unlikely to make a decision based on one game, of course. But if the midfield looks good in the Community Shield, then that could just push Liverpool in the direction of selling Wijnaldum and signing Thiago.

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